BLACKFOOT – There is a new candidate in the running for incumbent Bingham County Sheriff Craig Rowland’s spot in the election for Sheriff. The latest in the list of candidates is Shelley resident Jake Johnson, running as an Independent, who has over 20 years experience in law enforcement, including a stint with the Bingham County Sheriff’s Department.
He is currently working with the Pocatello Police Department as a member of the Special Traffic Enforcement Team.
“I want to help the local community to be safer and a nice area for people,” Johnson said. “I believe that the community and the sheriff’s department can work better together to make that happen and with new leadership at the helm, it will make this happen.”
Johnson believes there needs to be more community involvement. He said that includes working better with local police departments in a non-threatening manner to work cohesively with those local departments to get more productive involvement with the community.
“For a long time, whenever the sheriff’s department has moved to help the local departments it has been considered moving into a local domain,” Johnson said. “If this is to work, then the local department cannot feel like the sheriff’s department is moving in and taking over. There are local police in places like Shelley and Aberdeen and they sometimes need the help and resources of the sheriff’s department, they shouldn’t have to ask each and every time for help, they should feel comfortable that we can be there for them.”
Without citing specific instances, Johnson feels this is an opportunity for a change.
“I have worked with Sheriff Rowland in the past and look forward to working with him in the future,” Johnson said. “I am running now because it is an opportunity for me to be able to make an impact on the department in a positive way and maybe help make a transition into a better, more cohesive department for the future. It should be looked at as a win-win situation that benefits the community.”
Johnson said he is not opposed to donning a uniform and joining his fellow officers in covering the tough to cover areas of Bingham County, such as the Atomic City area and the Aberdeen area, both of which are quite a distance from the center of the Bingham County population.
“I have never shied from the opportunity to put on a uniform and join the officers in the field when the time occurs,” Johnson said. “It helps the leader to get a better feel for what is taking place in the county and to better know what the officers are facing on a day to day basis. I look forward to working with a lot of the friends that I have in the Bingham County Sheriff’s Department.”
It has been noted that on his campaign platform, Johnson is not in favor of “politicizing” the sheriff’s office. Johnson further explained his stance.
“I think that if the sheriff is a member of a particular political party, there is a belief and a tendency that you have to abide by the party lines, and not necessarily what is best for the community,” Johnson said. “I believe that you have to have a little bit of a Republican in you and also a bit of a Democrat in you and a whole lot of wanting to do what is right for the community regardless of what political beliefs that you might personally have regarding each and every situation. It is what is best for the community that is at the forefront of every decision.”
There are many different things that Johnson cited as things that need to be worked on and compromised with in order to make the department more friendly with the community.
“I feel that there are strong points with the sheriff’s department and the Blackfoot City Police Department that need to be integrated to better serve the needs of the community,” Johnson said. “We should be integrating the policies of each of those departments and others that we work with in order to better serve the community. The needs of the community should come first and the best way to implement those changes is to build more trust with the community than what currently exists.”
Johnson said building trust with the community and building a set of guidelines that enhances what the role of law enforcement is would be one of the things he would like to work on immediately.
“The community, the whole community which encompasses the entire county, needs to have faith and trust in what the sheriff’s department should have at the forefront of what we do each and every day,” Johnson said. “I think that there are times where the community feels second best to the officers in the department and the agenda of the department. The agenda of the department should be what is in the best interest of the members of the county.”
He said while this run for office is a focused and serious attempt at change within the sheriff’s department, he is committed and anxious to facilitate change, even if it takes more than one attempt at gaining the office and implementing those changes.
“I am not concerned that if I don’t win this election that the attempt will be dead,” Johnson said. “If need be, I will be front and center in not only this election, but also future elections if that is what it takes to bring about change for the better.”